Efficiency in Buildings

© Shutterstock The Sustainable Energy for All initiative includes among its key objectives the doubling of the rate of energy efficiency improvement. The buildings sector accounts for about one-third of global energy use and energy related GHG emissions. Widespread implementation of state-of-the-art policies, building design and technologies, coupled with behavior change could deliver reductions in energy demand from new and existing buildings of over 50% compared to business as usual (IPCC, 2014). Achieving such savings would not only significantly reduce GHG emissions, but also produce additional comfort, health, environmental and economic benefits. Essential to achieving such savings is the mainstream adoption of progressive sustainable energy policies for buildings that encourage best available technologies, low-energy new building design and energy efficiency renovation. 

Building Efficiency Accelerator
In order to double the rate of global energy efficiency improvement, a Building Efficiency Accelerator is proposed to drive public commitments at a city, state or regional level, actively supported by national governments. A collaborative network of businesses and NGOs will provide tools, expertise, technical capabilities and financial capacity to sub-national governments to help accelerate improvements in coordination with appropriate government entities. A key deliverable of this collaborative engagement will be an integrated policy roadmap, tailored to meet the specific market and regulatory conditions in each city or state. This roadmap will be developed in partnership with key government, business and civil society stakeholders, leveraging existing toolkits and best practice resources readily available from multiple sources. Funding for the policy roadmap development and program implementation will be secured from a variety of public and private financial institutions as part of this collaborative initiative.

Building Efficiency Policies
Governments can demonstrate leadership by setting building sector energy reduction targets, upgrading the energy performance of existing government buildings and leased space, establishing green procurement standards and constructing new buildings to high efficiency standards. National governments can establish minimum appliance, equipment and building component performance standards. Building codes, which are usually set at a national level or sometimes, in larger countries, at a state level, complete the regulatory package affecting the design and construction of buildings as well as major retrofit and renovation of existing buildings. Municipalities enforce building codes and have jurisdiction over public procurement and development control plans which include land-use zoning, density, setbacks and orientation. Sub-national governments can also create market demand for efficient buildings by requiring benchmarking and disclosure of building energy performance, periodic energy audits, setting targets for building renovation and providing incentives for energy efficient renovations and new construction. 

The availability of low-cost financing from public and private-sector institutions is a critical need across sectors. Governments and other institutions can leverage dedicated funds such as European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s Sustainable Energy Initiative or create revolving loan funds and establish loan guarantee reserves. Utility policies, which decouple profits from volumetric sales, encourage the use of ratepayer-funded energy efficiency investments to meet future energy demand requirements at a lower cost than constructing new power plants. Enabling legislation can also support infrastructure investment repayment through utility bills or property tax surcharges, such as Environmental Upgrade Agreements (EUA) in Australia and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs in the United States.

Download the flyer for Buildings - Energy Efficiency Accelerator here.

Photo credit: © Shutterstock

16 JUNE 2019